The Daily Northwestern is a student newspaper at Northwestern University that is published on weekdays during the academic year. Established in 1881 and published in Evanston, Illinois, it is run entirely by undergraduates, many of whom are students at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.
Thirteen of Evanston’s 59 public water fountains have been shut off for the summer — 10 due to excessive lead content after testing, and three others that were already due for replacement.
Dave Stoneback, director of the city’s Public Works Agency, said his staff plans to replace seven fountains this summer at a cost of $25,000 to $30,000 per fountain.
The complete data presented Monday to City Council showed that one fountain located in Clark Square Park, along the lakeshore, was found to dispatch water containing 120 parts per billion of lead, several times the action level of 15 parts per billion established by the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Drinking fountains have a unique situation where it’s sporadic use and very minimal use,” Stoneback told aldermen. “The contact time of the water sitting in the pipes and next to these (lead-containing) components is longer, and apparently that allows lead to get into water.”
Other fountains with lead levels exceeding the EPA action level are located in Merrick Rose Garden (79 parts per billion), Garden Park (57), Butler Park (33), Leider Park (32), Larimer Park (29), Snyder Park (23) and Brummel Richmond Park (21). The last two fountains are at the Robert Crown Center (79 and 15).
The testing was done on water that had been “allowed to sit in the pipes for approximately 18 hours,” according to the report. After flushing the pipes for 30 seconds and retesting, the fountains at Snyder Park, Brummel Richmond Park and the Robert Crown Center no longer exceed 15 parts per billion, but the other six fountains still did.
Stoneback told aldermen five of the 10 shut-off fountains have copper pipes and that he hopes — after changing the meters and valves that may be the source of lead — the fountains will be usable again. The Leider Park fountain falls under the jurisdiction of the Ridgeville Park District to replace.
The fountains at McCulloch Park, Harper Park and Independence Park were also shut off due to planned replacement.
Lead content at an additional 11 park fountains fell between five and 15 parts per billion, which is above the level that Illinois is “concerned about in schools,” Stoneback said.